Sue Lines is Chichester Cathedral’s Head Welcomer, a role she took over in late 2019. On the Friday of #VolunteersWeek we sat down with her virtually to discuss her experience in volunteering at the Cathedral.
How has your lockdown been?
Lockdown for me has been a period of reflecting, thinking about material things, life in general.
Well, really, perhaps we're all wanting and maybe re-evaluating some things, enjoying time in the garden, walking the dog, talking to friends on the phone, but missing people, missing people, very much family, friends, colleagues, hugging the grandchildren.
But generally, I think I've been very fortunate and really lockdown has been okay for me.
Do you have a favourite space in the Cathedral?
Personally, the Lady Chapel. Just to sit for a few minutes in the back row of the Lady Chapel, whenever I got the opportunity, is always a place that I like to be. And I just feel very comfortable there.
How did you come to volunteer at the Cathedral?
Why I'm volunteering is because for many years in my working life, I worked with probably six, seven hundred volunteers who came to the place continuing. And it was something I always wanted to do when I had the opportunity, when work wasn't quite so hectic.
I did various volunteering roles. And when it came to the fact that I had time to perhaps spend some time at the cathedral. That's what I wanted to do.
I became a Welcomer to and some two years ago I became a Guide and you will always meet so many interesting people coming and going into the cathedral.
What is something a person might not know about your role(s)?
I think what people probably wouldn't know about me is how much I try and please everybody when it comes to preparing duty sheets and things and everybody's wishes.
It's amazing how I always found that people wanted to work on certain hours, on certain days, and it sort of left everything bunched up.
But a lot of time and a lot of thought going into trying to please everybody and not quite sure if people would realise just how difficult that could be.
Have you had any unexpected experiences while volunteering?
There've been many from being asked the first time I was in the cathedral where the cafe was and where the toilet was, but something that sort of stands out in my memory was being a Welcomer one Friday afternoon four, five o'clock.
A gentleman coming in with what transpired to be his daughter and granddaughter.
He had been born very locally. His father was a farmer and he'd attended the Prebrendal School and been in the choir. His father moved away and hence the family went. And over his life, the gentleman moved to live in New Zealand.
Now, in his late 80s, he travelled with his daughter and granddaughter to revisit Chichester. It was a wish he particularly had, and he'd been shown round the Prebendal School in the morning.
He'd had a walk around Chichester and he'd come in to the cathedral to just catch up with the space that he'd wanted to visit for years. And he was going to stay for Evensong. But to talk to this gentleman whose memories of the cathedral were so special to him has stayed in my mind.
And he was a man who'd travelled a long way to experience the cathedral again.